Teens in our focus group described a variety of practices for flirting on social media. But despite the wide range of communication technologies available to modern teens, the time-tested tradition of asking in person continues to be the main way teens would ask out someone they were interested in.One high school girl explained: “A little bit more bold over text, because you wouldn’t say certain things in person. you just wouldn’t say certain things in, like, talking face to face with them because that might be kind of awkward. Cause they’re not really there.” Many teens use social media as a venue to flirt and interact with potential romantic partners, but for those on the receiving end of those advances, social media flirting can often turn in a much less desirable direction. Some 52% of teens say if they wanted to ask someone out on a date, they would usually do that in person.Fully 31% of 13 and 14-year-old girls have blocked or unfriended someone for this reason—this figure is similar to the 38% of older girls who have done so, and nearly triple the rate among 13- and 14-year-old boys. By contrast, boys are nearly twice as likely as girls to say they would usually ask someone out in person if they’re interested in going on a date (69% vs.A high school girl in our focus groups related her experience with uncomfortable online pursuit: “I think of stalking like if a person is constantly typing to you or something. 35%), and are also significantly more likely than girls to ask someone out via text message (27% vs. Boys and girls are equally likely to say they would ask someone out by calling them on the phone, messaging them on a social networking site or getting one of their friends to ask for them.Half of this group (representing 12% of all teens with dating experience, or 4% of all American teens) have met just one romantic partner online, while the other half have met more than one partner online. And so she told him that it was the wrong address because he asked her. Boys and girls are equally likely to friend a potential partner on another friend’s recommendation.Among teens with dating experience, boys and girls are equally likely to say they have met someone online, and younger and older teens are equally likely to have experienced this as well. Teens also avail themselves of the search capacities of the internet to connect to more information about romantic prospects.For example, there is a 15-point gap between older and younger teens when it comes to sending flirtatious messages (37% of older teens and 22% of younger teens have done so), but a substantially larger 49-point gap between those who are or have been in a relationship of some kind and those who have not (63% of teens with relationship experience have sent flirtatious messages to someone, compared with just 14% of those without).There also are some modest differences relating to race and ethnicity in terms of the ways in which teens show interest in potential romantic partners. And then I didn’t want to talk to her anymore because it was creepy, and she tracked my phone to my house. She was on the lawn and she used lots of vulgar language …
Notably, this phenomenon is not just limited to older girls who might have greater exposure to dating and relationships. Nearly half of girls (47%) say they usually wait for someone they are interested in dating to ask them out first, compared with just 6% of boys.
Half of all teens (50%) have let someone know they were interested in them romantically by friending them on Facebook or another social media site (this represents 65% of teens who use social media), while 47% (representing 62% of social media users) have expressed their attraction by liking, commenting or otherwise interacting with that person on social media.
And just over half of teens (55%) flirt or talk to someone in person to let them know they are interested.
Other ways in which teens let someone know that they are attracted to them include sharing something funny or interesting with them online (46%), sending them flirtatious messages (31%), making them a music playlist (11%), sending flirty or sexy pictures or videos of themselves (10%) and making a video for them (7%).
Certain types of flirting behavior are relatively common among teens who have never dated before; others are almost entirely the purview of those with past experience in romantic relationships.